The other day, I entered the common area of my suite to find two of my friends glued to a computer screen, watching a recent episode of Bones. As I took a seat in a nearby armchair, they asked if I wanted to join the viewing party, to which I respectfully replied “No thanks!”
“But I thought you liked Bones?” one answered.
“I did for awhile. I was pretty obsessed with it up until season 5 but then it jumped the shark with the whole pregnancy plot.”
“What are you even talking about?”
“Well, you know, once they actually put Bones and Booth together, everything kind of lost steam.”
“What? So when the two characters get together and are happy, it’s no longer worth watching? That’s actually ridiculous.”
Let me begin by saying this entire conversation infuriated me. I wouldn’t say I’m a television expert, but I’m fairly well-versed in the art of TV conventions. My initials practically demand it. There isn’t a show on television that I haven’t seen at least one episode of, except for Breaking Bad because that is a black hole of procrastination that I can’t afford to open until after finals week. More importantly, I was a fan of Bones from its very inception, partially because Zooey Deschanel’s sister was the star and I am secretly enamored by everything about that family. I recorded the episodes every week, I made fan-videos of Booth/Brennan, I almost even wrote fanfiction. Almost. I had fallen hard for the quirky scientist-special agent duo.
That is, until they shagged.
Let me backtrack for a second. My creative writing teacher in high school once told us that there is no such thing as good, happy poetry. While, yes, there can be poems that have a happy tone or happy pieces, a really good, moving poem is not one about bunnies hopping through colorful flower patches. Something has to happen, something thought-provoking or tragic that makes you question or reflect on the nature of life itself. (AHEM. Sorry. My inner poet came out. I just locked her back in my mental dungeon reserved for all things too closely related to hipsters.)
This can also, in some ways, apply to television. Crafting a believable and captivating TV relationship is harder than it seems because, like poetry, it can’t be 100% lovey-dovey. TV relationships rely on the maintenance of sexual tension, which breaks down the second you too invest in it too fully. Metaphorically, sexual tension is like a string. The tighter you pull it, the more excitement and anticipation you build (When will it snap? How long can it hold out? Who will cut the cord?). The second you pull out the scissors and snip it, the show, like the string, falls apart.
If any show can be said to master this rule, it is The X-Files. Eerily similar to Bones (red-haired, scientific female agent teams up with tall/dark/handsome partner more concerned with faith), The X-Files managed to preserve the sanctity of the Mulder/Scully relationship by balancing fleeting romantic moments with plenty of bickering and emotional obstacles. Not to mention, once the characters got too close, they disposed of one of them (Mulder) altogether.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the string rule also explains why Pushing Daisies was cancelled so suddenly. The show followed the life of Ned, a pie-maker who could bring people back to life with the touch of a finger. However, if he touched them a second time, they would return to the grave forever. Naturally, Ned brings to life one of his childhood loves and becomes tormented by his inability to bring their relationship to fruition. (That wasn’t a sexual reference, although, it could be. I just meant that he literally couldn’t touch her, even to fix the tag on her shirt if it was sticking out.) What started as a grand opportunity for sexual tension was immediately solved by the end of the first season when Ned used a plastic wrap barrier to kiss his childhood sweetheart. (I should also specify that the childhood sweetheart was, in fact, an adult by this time. Pedophilia was not involved.) If you remove the main obstacle to the characters’ relationship within the first season, you shouldn’t expect the show to last much longer. And it didn’t. Pushing Daisies was cancelled after the second season.
While Bones lasted a little longer than Ned and his girlfriend, the show still fell into a similar trap. Though, in some ways, the Bones/Booth hook-up was unavoidable (Emily Deschanel got pregnant, forcing the writers to work around the situation), it also snapped the string that had been supporting the show’s narrative for so long. And so, I lost interest.
I realize that sexual tension is not the only component of a show, and the loss of it was not the only reason I turned away from my beloved Bones, but if I delve any more into television commentary, I run the risk of turning this blog post into a TV review, which is about as interesting as a grocery list, so I digress. My question to you is this: where should we draw the line with sexual tension? At what point does it turn from interesting to lame? If you cut the cord, can the show be recovered? Is there even such thing as a sexual tension “rule”? Or did I make all of this up?
Every year, my family and I go on vacation during the first week of August. Depending on the number of trips my mother makes to Pottery Barn in a given year (read: how much money we have left to spend by the end of summer), our trips can range anywhere from posh dream vacations (the Bahamas) to more low-key excursions (our backyard). While they’re usually worth the hassle of dragging 3 children to the airport at 4 o’clock in the morning, vacations can also be surprisingly problematic, especially if you’re a twenty-something who really, really values personal space.
1) Don’t bother under-packing.
I usually pride myself on my complete lack of upper body strength because female body builders give me nightmares but on vacation, my noodle arms can make airport trips and hotel exploration significantly more challenging. This year, when I under-packed for our trip to California to make my luggage lighter and thus less difficult to drag through the airport, I began to question my intelligence for not having thought of this idea earlier. That is, until I walked into my room to find my mother strategically reorganizing my bag and filling it with her own things like some twisted, travel-themed Tetris game. As it turns out, family members will use your extra bag room to avoid paying an extra gazillion dollars in overweight luggage fees so either way, you will be forced to carry a ten-ton suitcase (probably with a broken wheel or handle because, why not, right) down hallways, up stairs, and across sketchy, hotel parking lots. Stop trying to avoid the inevitable.
2) Age difference is everything.
Everyone has their limits when it comes to dealing with siblings, but it is not until you’re 20-years-old and confined to a room with them do you begin to recognize those boundaries. Two years ago, when my step-brother was 8, my step-sister 10, and my brother 13, sharing a room was not a problem. My brother’s teenage angst had not yet kicked in and the other two children were not trying to kill each other. Stuffing a pre-teen girl, a teenage football player, and a boy whose main goal in life is to bother his sister, does not have the same effect. The age difference between family members can determine if a vacation ends with happy Grand Canyon pictures or a week without iPhone privileges and a lot of yelling. Once that equilibrium is ruined, you might as well invest in a set of permanent earplugs and some Xanax.
3) Sharing a bed will forever and always be a problem.
Even with a pillow divider the size of the Great Wall, sharing a bed with a brother/sister/cousin/hobo will initiate at least one fight, potentially while sleeping. Hotel beds are always one Michelle-Obama-arm too small (a new unit of measurement that you are all responsible for popularizing, starting now). If it’s some sort of sales tactic to get people to buy more rooms with more beds, then it’s brilliant and also cruel. All I know is that only in the darkness of a hotel room is it okay to kick your brother/sister/cousin/hobo across the room for rolling too far into your personal bubble.
4) A proper boys/girls ratio can be a powerful thing.
The thought of belonging to an all-boys family gives me severe anxiety because I start envisioning group outings to paintball facilities and car shows and that’s not something I want to be involved in. (I should note that I’m basing this vision on how my own male family members behave so it’s entirely possible that this is not what an all-boy family is like. I’ve never had an all-boys family, so how should I know?) When the number of boys to girls on a family vacation is not balanced, the majority usually gets to choose the activities. I didn’t take a week off of work (translation: a week off of watching Orange Is the New Black on repeat) so I could be dragged to a motorcycle show. Ain’t nobody got time for that, so it’s always important to maintain a balanced boy-to-girl ratio. Adopt a child if you have to.
5) Every time could be the last time. Enjoy it.
Sometime in the last year, I turned 20. I don’t know when it happened but if I’d known ahead of time, I would have vetoed the occasion. As the years go by, and that number grows larger, I begin to wonder how long I can enjoy the all-expenses paid trips with the people that I love the most. All good things come to an end, after all, and the closer I get to my college graduation, the more and more unqualified I feel to enjoy these excursions. How old is too old to go on a family vacation? I may have already passed that point. I may have a few more years to go. I don’t know, and I don’t think I want to. Until I figure it out, I will endure a few more nights of pillow dividers and heavy suitcases just in case they are my last.
I have a tendency to mishear things. Conversations, words in passing, song lyrics, you name it. I try to blame it on my age but I’ve found that no one takes you seriously when you say “my ears are dying” unless you’ve over the age of 50. Regardless, my countless efforts to shift the blame for my embarrassing misunderstandings has not prevented the embarrassing misunderstandings from occurring, which makes listening to music with friends a daily struggle. This post is a snippet of what I have to deal with and if you guys like it, maybe I’ll make it a regular thing. If not, then I never liked you anyway and I’m taking you off my future Christmas card mailing list. I’m a Christmas fiend. You would have loved them. Too bad.
Lyrics + Commentary:
When life leaves you high and dry,
I’ll be at your door tonight
if you need help, if you need help
I’ll shut down the sitting lights, (Great use of personification, Phillip.)
I’ll lie, cheat, I’ll beg and bribe,
To make your well, to make your well. (They have plumbing now, you know.)
When enemies are at your door,
I’ll carry you away for more (I guess you can always use more enemies.)
if you need help, if you need help.
Your hope dangling, buy a string. (You never know when you’ll need an extra string.)
I’ll share in your suffering,
to make you well, to make you well.
Give me reasons to, Beliebs,
that you would do the same for me,
And I will do it for you, for you.
Baby I’m not mowing on,
I’ll love your lawn after you’re gone. (What a lawn fanatic.)
For you, for you.
You will never sleep alone,
I’ll love you long after you’re gone.
Long after you’re gone gone gone.
When you fall like, astatchoo,
I’m gonna be there to, ACHOO. (You really should get that cold checked out.)
Put you on your feet, you on your feet.
And if your well is empty,
Not a thing will prevent me
Tell me what you need, what do you need?
I surrender on a sleeve.
You’ve always done the same for meat.
You’re my back bone, you’re my quarter stone. (I’m unfamiliar with this form of currency.)
You’re my crush when my legs stop moving (Only the disabled can have crushes.)
You’re my Ed Stark, you’re my running heart (A GAME OF THRONES REFERENCE YES.)
You’re the post that I’ve always needed
Like a drum-baby don’t stop beating (Drum-baby. Must be like a food-baby.)
Like a drum-baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum-baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum my heart never stops beating
Like a drum-baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum-baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum-baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum my heart never stops beating for you
And long after you’re gong, gong, gong. (Personification and onomatopoeia in the same song?)
I love you long after you’re gong, gong, gong.
I’m about a year and a half into the world of online writing and if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that people can be very, very mean. Not the meaningless “you suck harder than your mom” kind of mean that you hear from 13-year-old boys on X-Box Live from time to time, but the soul-crushing, ego-killing, personalized meanness that only dirty fighters and anonymous internet users can provide.
I’ve never really handled criticism well which, as a writer, sets me up for a very long and miserable career, but I can’t help the fact that negative comments make the tiny violin player on my shoulder start playing almost every time. I didn’t put him there. Don’t blame me. Up until this point, I only ever received written comments on school essays or projects. Even after I started writing for HelloGiggles, I was never really exposed to the negativity that typically flows out of the volcanic realms of the interwebs. Most of my articles were about happy or nostalgic subjects, like blanket forts or kittens on Christmas, which drove a lot of the online trolls into hiding. (Find me one bad thing to say about those topics. You can’t. This was my foolproof defense.)
Recently, though, I’ve been writing more and stepping into deeper, more controversial waters. First, let me just say, you’d be astounded at what things people will find fault with. I wrote a story about a disastrous volunteer experience in New Orleans (that ultimately ended up being one of the most inspiring trips I’ve ever been on) and received an onslaught of “rich little white girl talking about white guilt” comments which, to be honest, is a pretty inaccurate sentence all around. I’m more transparent than white and if I were rich, I would not have spent a large portion of this summer trying to figure out ways to avoid taking out more student loans. I’m also pretty pear shaped, body-wise, which doesn’t really qualify as little.
Ultimately, everything comes down to this: wanting to be liked, by your classmates, teachers, parents, friends, Ryan Gosling, is a natural feeling, but if you really love yourself the way that I hope you all do, stay away from the comments. You want to look. You want to see whether or not anyone appreciated that Jeopardy! joke that you slipped into the second paragraph or if that image you photoshopped of a cat on a cactus received any “LOL”s but more often than not, opening the comments section is like jumping into a pit of fire and crocodiles spitting poisonous spiders. It’s dangerous, emotionally and physically. One negative comments can bring the rest of your day down, even if it’s not a particularly true one.
I see you, critic. Your hands are hovering over the keyboard. “If you’re getting so many bad comments, maybe they have a point,” you want to say. Back away from the computer. I’ve realized that, and have come up with a magic rule to counteract your suggestion. When you’re churning out a series of potentially controversial articles (aka, any one that provides an opinion), tell yourself you will look in the comments section of two of them. You’ll see angry emoticons and spiteful paragraphs about how awful you are as a human being, that’s a promise. But you may also see a pattern in the comments, something like “Everything this person writes is offensive to so-and-so” or “This person really has to reference cats in every post, huh?” and if so, you may be able to take something positive out of it. After this point, swear off the comments section for good because the truth of the matter is, not everyone is going to like what you write. Not everyone is going to like who you are. Mark Twain was a good writer. During his time, he said a number of hilarious and insightful things. And yet, here’s a blog post by someone hating on him. Someone out there is programmed to hate you. Don’t take it personally.
Truth is, if I thought anyone was going to listen to this advice, I wouldn’t have included so many “please”s but everyone will fall into the comment section’s gravitational curiosity pull. Sometimes, I still do. You’re all just reckless kids and I’m that overprotective parent that doesn’t want you to make mistakes and get hurt but hey, maybe you need that to learn. Still, I would hope I could save you the trouble.
Here are some resources to prevent you from reading the comments if that whole spiel wasn’t convincing enough:
- Twitter account to remind you to not read the comments
- Ars Technica post about the negative effects of comments on your self-perception
Does anyone have an opinion on the comments section? I promise I’ll read them. (I’m under the assumption that anyone reading these blog posts likes me enough to have come here in the first place and will therefore not hurt my feelings. Feel free to not prove me wrong.)
Scene opens on two guys. One is sitting in a chair behind a desk. The other stands outside the room, hand raised. He knocks.
Yes, come in.
(DAMIAN enters. Room is filled with smoke.)
Hi, I’m here for the interview?
Oh yes, come in Anderson.
No, it’s Anderson. First thing’s first, kid, if you wanna be a detective, you’re gonna need a detective name. No one is gonna take ya seriously with a silly name like Damian. Sit down.
So, why do you want to be a detective Anderson?
Well, sir, I’ve always been good at those mystery books. You know, the one where you have to pick out the escaped convict from a crowd of people?
Son, do you mean Where’s Waldo?
Yes! That’s the one! I would go through a book a week. My mother told me I was incredibly talented. Had the eyes of an eagle, she’d say.
(WALTER stands up, walks up to the camera.)
I could see that this fellow was particularly stupid but there was something about him that told me to keep listening. What that something was, I’m not exactly sure.
What was that?
What was what?
That, right there, what you just did. You went over there and started talking to yourself and then you walked back. You said I was stupid.
I was breaking the fourth wall. We detectives do it all the time. If you really wanted to be a detective, you would know that.
Real detectives don’t do that. Only detectives in movies from the 1950s do that…
(Sighs, walks back to camera)
I could already tell this one was a troublemaker. But trouble is my middle name and I wanted to hear more.
What do you know about my case?
Um, okay, only what you sent me in your…telegraph… which was a little difficult to get a hold of, by the way. Don’t you have email or something?
I’m unfamiliar with that phrase. Is that some sort of radio system?
We live in the 21st century and you don’t know… You know what, whatever. In the file, you said that you can’t remember what happened to you Monday of last week and you think someone may have erased your memory.
That’s correct. The last thing I remember was going to the coffee shop to organize an event…
At this point, a group of people pop up in the corner and re-enact a flashback sequence.
Whoa, wait, what’s going on…
Welcome back Walter. You want the same as yesterday?
Why Lucy, I haven’t seen you in months. What are you talking about?
Months? Walter, are you feeling okay? You came in just yesterday.
(DAMIAN walks up to them, pokes one)
(To WALTER) What is this, you have people just waiting around in your office to act our your life? Is that even legal?
It’s called a flashback, Anderson. It’s a common practice.
(To FLASHBACK CHARACTERS) This is a joke right? How much is he paying you guys?
(Pushing DAMIAN back)
Son, you’re out of line. Sit back down in the chair.
(He signals the two FLASHBACK CHARACTERS to sit)
Do you want to be a detective or not?
I mean… yeah, I do.
Then you better start acting like it.
…you’re right. You’re right. I’m sorry. You know what, I’ll take the files and I’ll figure out what happened to you. I promise.
DAMIAN leaves Walter’s office. Once he steps outside of it, he pauses then walks up to the camera.
My plan had worked. After I gave him the amnesia pill, Walter didn’t even remember me stealing his credit card that Monday. And now that I’m his understudy, I can get coffee for free every week until I run him dry. I’ll be set for life, baby.
(Stepping up to the audience.)
There was something strange about Anderson. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. So I decided to go to the coffee shop to get my mind straightened out. There’s nothing like a Mocha Frappucino to restart my memory.
Yes, I’m an English Major. No, I Will Not Be Working At McDonald’s. Yes, I Want You To Leave Me Alone.
When I was 5, I wrote my first book. Sure, it had a grand total of 4 words (the first two being my name and the last two being “The End”) and the stick figure illustrations could have been more detailed, but it was the first step I had ever taken in the writing industry, an industry that I would aspire to call my home.
Now let me preface this by saying that I am not your typical writing fanatic. I don’t bring my laptop into Starbucks, put in my headphones and “release my creative energies” for 5 hours at a time because first of all, I believe writing is a personal practice and second, as a native New Englander, my loyalty lies with Dunkin Donuts. But this is besides the point, of course, because I’m not creating this post to discuss coffee preferences (just to put them out there so I can learn who my enemies are). Rather, I’m writing this post to address the seemingly daily conversation that arises every time I am cornered into admitting I’m an English major. The conversation, and its potential variations, are as follows:
Relative 1: What are you majoring in?
Relative 1: Oh… so you’re planning on living at home for awhile, then?
Relative 1: That’s tough. You can easily work your way up to a better job eventually, though. You’re pairing your major with something else, right?
Relative 1: Oh really? What school district will you be teaching in?
Relative 1: It’s so great that you don’t care about making money.
Listen. I’m not concentrating in Medieval Studies of Soldiers on Horseback or Word Choice in Robert Frost’s Poetry. My coursework is not entirely defined by reading books (though that is a perk). I do not intend to work as a waitress until I can get a “real job,” signifying something in business or politics or any other area of study that makes me want to crawl under a rock and forswear all earthly activities for the rest of my life. I can be a publisher. I can be a journalist. I can be a research assistant. I can be a speechwriter. I can work with magazines. I can be a movie critic. I can review books. I can be a copywriter. I can be a news reporter. I can manage social media. I can be a lobbyist. I can be an editor. I can write for television or radio or movies. I can be a travel writer. I can work in advertising. I can do anything I want to do.
I’ve read the newspapers and the online Yahoo! articles. English majors top the list of Most Useless Degrees next to Art History and obscure things like “Painting With Your Nose” and I honestly haven’t figured out why. The skills that you develop through writing and reading (such as critical thinking), the skills that come with an English degree, are used in every single day of your entire life. Need a resume? Write one. Want to end a fight with your significant other? Write an apology letter (but limit it to a couple of pages so you don’t end up in that Ross/Rachel debacle). Need to contact a friend? Text them (which is a form of writing, even when it sometimes may not look like it).
Not to mention there is success in the writing business. Just look in any bookstore. Every novel that you see sitting on those shelves were toiled over by some perfectionist writer, who probably spent anywhere between 1 to 20 hours deleting and undeleting (I make up words, so what? I’m an English major, for goodness sake) the comma in line 13 of page 402. And think about your favorite TV show. As cool as it would be for the character descriptions to magically appear on a blank piece of paper, with dialogue and idiosyncracies already built in, that is not how life works. A writer had to create that character, that plot, that dialogue. Everything starts with writing.
But in case you needed more proof, here is a list of famous people who were English majors:
Tommy Lee Jones (and from Harvard, no less)
Stephen King (shocker)
Conan O Brien
Reese Witherspoon (but didn’t graduate)
Ken Jennings (Jeopardy all time champ who has a surprisingly hilarious Twitter feed)
Granted, many of these people did not rise to success immediately after stripping their cap and gown but then again, who does? With the economy looking more and more like a Kindergartener’s chopped up paper snowflake of a system, I’d be impressed at anyone who can get a decent job upon entering the real world.
I’ve done my research, ladies and gentlemen. You could major in Biochemical Engineering or Public Administration with a Concentration in Economics or something equally as technical sounding and mind numbing and that still would not guarantee a place for you in the job sphere unless you have experience to go along with it. An English major with no internships or writing experience will receive just as much consideration in the real world as a science major with nothing to their name but a diploma and proof of occasional trips to the science building in college. Jobs don’t come from the title of your major. They come from the experience that you latch onto it. The major you choose is only useless if you let it be useless.
So call me a failure, a future deadbeat office worker, a pompous artist, whatever. I’m taking the path less traveled by and I’m going to like it, whether or not you choose to do the same.